Report reveals that student diversification is an industry priority in New South Wales

Report reveals that student diversification is an industry priority in New South Wales.

Nov 21, 2023 Study Travel Magazine

According to a recent report from English Australia and Bonard, 77 per cent of international education providers in New South Wales say that diversification is an institutional priority.

Findings from the report showed that 57 per cent of education providers in NSW said that diversification is a priority, while 20 per cent pointed out it is their top priority. The report also noted that, “Diversifying source countries has become a key action to build resilience as the sector recovers and grows after the challenging years of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The report identified priority markets for diversification in different sectors of the NSW education system. For Higher Education, the Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan were highlighted as priority markets; for vocational education and training (VET), the Philippines, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Argentina were the highest priority; and for ELICOS, the priority markets were Chile, Mexico, Taiwan and Argentina.

Bonard explained that the company conducted a performance benchmark of NSW in the context of Australia and Australia’s closest competitors. Subsequently, a series of consultations with NSW stakeholders identified four overall priority countries for diversification: Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico and Chile.

The importance of diversification - BONARD

In order to get the most out of these target markets, the report went on to identify students’ priorities, revealing that employability and career opportunities were of high importance to students from each target market, while accommodation availability and cost of living were reported as the biggest barriers.

The importance of other factors varied across the four countries surveyed: for example, while an enjoyable lifestyle was the top factor attracting prospective students from Mexico to NSW, Vietnamese and Indonesian students primarily considered the reputation of the education provider.

Brett Blacker , CEO of English Australia , said, “Developing targeted, sector-wide strategies for these focus markets will build greater resilience in the NSW international education sector, create new growth opportunities and enhance the experience of international students. Ultimately, diversification serves to the benefit of all stakeholders as it helps secure more sustainable international student recruitment.”

Challenges in relation to diversification and international student recruitment were also highlighted in the report.

According to the educational institutions that took part, the biggest challenges are currently the visa refusal rate (identified by 60 per cent of respondents), and contradictory messages from the Department of Home Affairs (60 per cent).

Toshi Kawaguchi, Director of Study NSW added, “With the top five source countries accounting for 59 per cent of all international enrolments in NSW pre-pandemic, this large-scale mapping pinpointed opportunities for the NSW sector to diversify its source country, course portfolio and delivery modes.”

Another key area of interest for providers highlighted in the report is the diversification of course portfolios, to achieve a more balanced distribution of international students in study programmes. The third priority for providers is exploring alternative delivery models such as hybrid, EdTech, and online courses.

The research was carried out by English Australia and Bonard and funded by Study NSW’s Partner Projects grant programme. The research gathered contributions from 72 stakeholder consultations with representatives of the higher education, VET and ELICOS sectors and education agencies, as well as 243 responses from international students.

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